Dragasakis: Support from credit line ‘not the government’s choice’

The government has chosen to access the market relying on its own strength rather than a credit line when the current assistance programme ends in August, government Vice-president Yiannis Dragasakis said on Sunday, in an interview with the public broadcaster ERT.

“A credit line is not the government’s choice. A credit line means new conditions but also uncertainty and lack of clarity about the future,” he said.

Dragasakis pointed out that interest rates for Greece had now dropped to pre-crisis levels and the overall atmosphere concerning the country was good. “We are building on this prospect but we also have an obligation to be protected as a country,” he added, noting that the government was working to create a “safety cushion” of about 18 billion euros for this purpose, to use after the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) programme had ended. About half of this amount was expected to come from the ESM, he said, and the remaining nine billion euros from Greece’s test forays to tap the markets.

According to Dragasakis, the majority of European forces supported the government’s efforts to exit the memorandum programmes while a minority did not desire this outcome. “We are waging a constant battle against [these forces],” he said.

Asked about the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he noted that the Fund’s participation in the programme just a few months before this ended was “clearly de-dramatised”. “If the IMF wants to participate, let it participate in a positive way only, by helping with the issue of the debt, in other words, and not making additional demands,” Dragasakis added.

He repeated that the government’s aim was that debt auctions should not cause people to lose their only residence while noting the need to “separate the wheat from the chaff” with respect to non-performing loans, distinguishing strategic defaulters from those genuinely struggling to pay their debts.

On the FYROM name issue, Dragasakis said that successfully resolving the problem through a sustainable and mutually beneficial agreement will be a “good development”, if such an opportunity should arise. “Whatever the outcome, however, Greece remains the most stable and secure country in the surrounding region, in spite of the crisis it has undergone. As a powerful pole and international point of reference, Greece can take the lead in inter-Balkan cooperation and collective prosperity,” he said.